General, Research, Technology

How are coronavirus, solar panels and air pollution related?

Solar panels convert the sun's rays intoelectricity, however, back in 2013, Jan Marius Peters proved that air pollution can reduce the power of a solar panel by at least 12%. Moreover, according to a new study, air pollution and solar energy interact in a self-amplifying network. High levels of air pollution block sunlight, thereby increasing pollution, which reduces the performance of solar panels. Researchers have suggested that replacing air pollution sources with solar-powered technologies will make urban air cleaner, which means it can help prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change. The coronavirus pandemic has shown that this is possible.

Almost empty street in Delhi, a city with an appallingly high level of air pollution

Pandemic and air pollution

Climate change, as shown by the resultsnumerous studies, rapidly changing our planet. Fossil fuel extraction, excess consumption and environmental pollution are just some of the factors contributing to global warming. One of the most acute problems caused by climate change is air pollution. According to the Institute of Transportation Engineers, with the closure of restaurants and shops, and the introduction of quarantine measures in cities around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, daily traffic, the main source of air pollution, decreased by 30%, 40% and 50%, and in some cases even 60%.

Today Jan Marius Peters, Institute employeeHelmholtz in Erlangen-Nuremberg on renewable energy in Germany (it was he who in 2013 managed to find out that due to air pollution - when the sky becomes foggy - the power of solar panels decreases by 12%), the author of a new study published in the journal Joule , I am convinced that the pandemic of the new coronavirus has proved that the transition to solar energy will make the air in cities cleaner.

This is how the streets of New Daily look like on an ordinary day

This is interesting: Can a solar power plant generate electricity at night?

Peters has been studying pollution in recent years.air in one of the most populous cities in the world - New Delhi, India. According to the official press release of the study, Delhi is one of the most polluted cities on the planet. In 2019, 25 million residents of this Indian city wore face masks solely to filter out toxic air. At the end of 2019, breathing air in Delhi was tantamount to smoking 50 cigarettes. Peters also notes that the reduction of harmful air emissions in India occurred suddenly.

Pandemic and Solar Panels

According to the results, lockdowncovid-19 caused not only a nearly 50 percent reduction in air pollution in Delhi, but also an unusually high level of sunlight reaching solar panels. The study said that “at the end of March 2020, New Delhi photovoltaic installations received much more sunlight than in previous years, and will continue to generate record amounts of electricity as long as air pollution remains low.”

Do you think that after the pandemic the world will be able to switch to other energy sources and abandon fossil fuels? We will wait for the answer here!

Scientists expect the same to be trueand for photovoltaic installations in other cities with high levels of air pollution and restrictions associated with COVID-19, for example, in Calcutta, Mumbai, Wuhan, Dhaka, etc. Comparing the latest data on air quality and weather in Delhi in 2017-2020 (including characteristics of air pollution and insolation), scientists quantified anomalies for the periods before and after the adoption of measures. So, at the end of March, there was 8.3% more sunlight than usual, and about 5.9% in April.

A solar battery is a combination of photovoltaic devices that directly convert solar energy into direct current

Insolation is the irradiation of surfaces by sunlight, data on which were obtained using a pyranometer located next to a commercial photovoltaic installation in Pashim Vihara, Delhi. Pyranometers - small devices that convertglobal solar radiation into electrical signals that can be measured for study. It is noteworthy that pyranometers can be used for any projects related to solar energy - from agriculture to measuring the effectiveness of solar panels. Then, data were analyzed for four time periods: February; the period from March 1 to March 20; from March 21 to March 31; and April.

After a pandemic, the world will not be the same. However, we managed to find out that the air can become cleaner, and it is possible to smooth out the effects of climate change. I believe that solar panels can play an important role in the fight against global warming and that in the future, more photovoltaic systems will help to create positive feedback that will lead to a better world and cleaner air.

Jan Marius Peters, Helmholtz Institute in Erlangen-Nuremberg for Renewable Energy, Germany, in an interview with Inverse.